Who runs your stage combat course? What is taught in it?
Scott Witt is a lecturer in Movement at NIDA.
"'Stage combat' makes up an important portion within the movement program of the NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) course and is taught alongside clowning, slapstick, mask and physical risk. This work is complemented by training the actors in various dance forms, acrobatic and aerial skills, along with a range of approaches to characterisation and ensemble movement. The stage combat training is an important part of the students' preparation for NIDA's bi-annual production seasons.
The term 'stage combat' is in some ways a bit dated. The skills that are involved in fighting for stage and screen go way beyond learning how to throw a punch and falling. We are asking our students to take a deeper look at the movement and movement systems inherit in fighting and physical risk-taking. We delve deeply into what is transpiring biomechanically, physiologically and neurologically to the body so that actors can gauge how their system is reacting and responding. They are developing skills to ensure that at any given moment they are working from the frontal lobe – from a place of cognition rather than just reacting from a place of fear – and as such, become a much safer actor on a higher level that involves both the mind and the body.
The first year of training in stage combat is dedicated to physical risk. Students are taken through a process-based learning pedagogy that asks students to recognise potentially dangerous movement and choreography in order to develop strategies for self-assessment and risk management. They are also taught fundamental combat and slapstick principles and techniques. This may include, but is not limited to: strikes, rolling, falling, sword and blade work. All this work culminates in performing a fight scene in class at the end of the year.
Second year is dedicated to fighting for camera. It is designed to equip students with a variety of firearm/knife disarms: blocks, locks and hand-to-hand techniques. Students will discuss, learn and apply how best to 'work the lens' with combative techniques. All skills are designed for the modern actor working in film and television. This culminates in a seven minute action film.
Third year is dedicated to fleshing out more weapons to ensure that the actors are ready for the industry and can adapt their training to a variety of weapon systems that may present themselves on the job. Students also learn and perform a violent scene on screen in order to gain experience with a working stunt co-ordinator."